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This broccoli and garlic sauce recipe is a very simple concoction with few ingredients, but is packed full of flavor. If you find yourself with little time but want to make something impressive, this is a great go-to dish. And it is vegan-friendly if the cheese is omitted (or a non-dairy cheese substitute is used).
Tips & Substitutions
This recipe only calls for the broccoli florets, but you can save the stems for other dishes – they can be delicious if you slice them finely, and discard anything that is too fibrous. Just pop what’s left in the freezer in an airtight baggie or plastic container for later use.
Quickly cook your broccoli in the salted, boiling pasta water first. This will infuse the water with broccoli flavor, which will in turn infuse the pasta with the same delicious flavor.
As always, cook both the broccoli and the pasta al dente.
Be sure the broccoli is fairly dry before tossing it into the pan to saute, because the hot oil can splatter.
Not a fan of boiled veggies? You can also roast the broccoli if you want more intense flavor!
I use extra virgin olive oil only when I am not going to be cooking it.
If you are cooking or sautéing with olive oil, the regular, non-extra virgin type is perfectly fine to use, and you will not notice the difference in flavor between that and the tastier and pricier extra virgin type once it’s heated.
Save your extra virgin stash for those occasions that require an uncooked drizzle here and there.
If you feel the need to add a bit of extra olive oil when you’re saucing your pasta, feel free to use good quality extra-virgin olive oil, since you will not be heating it.
Cheese & Chili Pepper Flakes
Parmesan or another hard cheese can be sprinkled generously on top of the finished dish for garnish, along with some red chili pepper flakes for a bit of color and an added kick.
I actually add a touch of red pepper to most of my sauces – I love them on everything!
The amount of garlic can definitely be adjusted to your personal tastes, but I love to use lots.
It’s healthy, flavorful… what’s not to love?
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced (or to taste)
- 1/2 head broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Parmesan, Pecorino, Sardo or Reggianito cheese, grated (optional)
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- Chop the broccoli up into individual florets and mince the garlic.
- Add water and salt to a large pot and bring to a boil. Bring the water to a boil and add the broccoli and cook for just a few minutes to ensure most of the firmness remains.
- Remove broccoli from the pot and drain. Return the same water to a boil and add the noodles. Allow them to cook until they are al dente. Once the noodles are ready, remove them and drain well. Keep a cup of the water for adjusting the sauce.
- Add olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat to medium-low. Add the brocolli and sauté for a few minutes and then add the garlic. Sauté until the garlic turns a gold color. Add sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- Add in the pasta. Keep stirring until it is fully coated in oil and hot. Once the pasta has reached your desired temperature, remove from the heat and plate.
- Top with chili flakes and grated cheese of your choice.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prepare Your Ingredients
Separate the broccoli into florets and mince your garlic (or cheat and use the stuff that comes pre-minced in jars).
Step Two – Prepare the Broccoli
Fill a large pot with water and toss in enough kosher salt to make it flavorful, but not so salty that it is offensive when you taste it. You can ruin the final product if your water is not salted correctly, so please do taste it!
Place the pot over high heat. Once the water is boiling, add the broccoli and cook until al dente.
Step Three – Prepare the Pasta
Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon and allow to drain while you cook the noodles until they are al dente, in the same water. Make sure the water has returned to the boil before adding the pasta. The amount of time required will be determined by the type of pasta that you are using. Here I used my homemade Semolina.
Drain the cooked noodles with a colander or a strainer until they are fairly dry, remembering to reserve at least a cup of the starchy water, in case you need it later to adjust your sauce.
Step Four – Sautéing
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Sauté the broccoli for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic (it will burn very quickly). If you burn the garlic, it will become very bitter – so keep an eye on what’s going on in that pan! As soon as it is fragrant and golden, it is done.
Now you have oil in the pan that is flavored by garlic and broccoli, and the pasta you cooked is already infused with the flavor of broccoli as well. You can see why this is a very tasty dish! Add a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper to the broccoli, to taste.
Step Five – Add the Pasta
Now toss in the pasta. Stir to combine until it is coated well with the oil, and warm enough to serve. It may have cooled a bit while you were making the sauce.
Step Six – The Plating
Serve topped with grated cheese and red chili flakes.
Broccoli and garlic is a popular combination that’s popular in many different types of cuisine. But I particularly love it here, as a simple sauce for pasta.
Feel free to create your own variations, adding your own favorite vegetables, and maybe even mixing in a little alfredo. Share your creations with me in the comments!
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu and Kendall Vanderslice.
About Lori Jo Hendrix
Lori was born in southern California and currently resides in Mexico. She is an actress and model who also writes in the fields of nutrition, wellness, and cuisine. Her passions include working as a volunteer with various groups in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured animals.
18 thoughts on “This Broccoli & Garlic Sauce will Soon Be Your Go-To”
Well if it is going to be my go-to, then iti will jumping ahead of some good ones, and some ones that have been featured in my kitchen for some time now. That said, though, this does seem a little more healthy and easier to make then some of those, so that is not to say that there is no room for a new one. I will certainly have to have the toothpaste ready or at least some mints lying around to combat the garlic breath, but aside from that I can see this one becoming a regular. Thanks for sharing.
Hehehehe! You are welcome.
I personally love, love, love garlic and I try to use it whenever I cook. I don’t care about the breath or anything else. I just love the flavor that it adds to my food. I cannot wait to try this garlic sauce and I know my family will agree. I’m even willing to bet that this recipe will soon become one of their favorites and they will be requesting it regularly. Thanks for the recipe.
I’m with you, I love garlic too and don’t care about my breath smelling like it. It just takes food to another level, in my opinion.
I know! I love it raw in pesto, caramelized, sautéed, anything! I can’t imagine living without it.
You are welcome! And it’s’ so simple to make!
A great recipe that’s easy to follow and one where I don’t have to adapt any ingredients. Adding some kale or spinach would boost my vegetable intake and I love how spinach wilts into a pasta dish, so I’ll try that.
Another idea is to use an infused cooking oil. Recently I’ve seen some chili and basil ones which would be ideal for this recipe.
Great ideas! Thanks! Infused oils are definitely fun to cook with and make yourself at home. I love the way infusing the oils makes the bottles look so pretty in the kitchen.
Not to change the subject entirely but I discovered infusing tequila with chilis and making chili margaritas! Yum!
What a clever way to combine these ‘super foods’, garlic is amazing for a host of medical complaints and is a great immune system booster which you really should incorporate into your diet on a daily basis. You can cut some of the fat in this recipe too by ‘sauteeing’ in a small amount of vegetable broth rather than oil if you like, it still tastes fantastic.
Thanks for the tip! I have a fast metabolism and am actually trying to gain weight but this is great for those that need to lose.
This looks so good, girl. I really like how vegan friendly it is, I am not a vegan at all but sometimes I feel guilty about the fact that I don’t eat a lot of veggies, and this seems a great option when it comes to those guilty days.
I really liked the fact that it has cheese on it, and you can add some variety to them, which is great, I think that this can add the special touch to the meal in general.
Thanks for sharing!
Even if you are not vegan or vegetarian vegetables are still very important and it is healthy to have meat free days. I am happy you like the recipe and are going to try it.
This sounds really good to me. Of course, it is made with my favorite type of seasoning or flavoring. I need to get a grinder.
I will definitely try this mixture. I can think of many different ways to use this, although the particular dish you described also sounds delicious as well. I can just think of lots of other combinations too, so this will be quite useful for me.
Everyone in my family will like this sauce.
I am glad to see you are going to experiment, that for me is what pasta sauces and dishes are all about.
I just purchase my sea salt in the grinder itself, the same with black pepper. if I add red chili flakes, I add them as is.
Believe it or not, broccoli is one of the only veggies I can get my children to eat. This sounds so good! I have this bookmarked and will be making this is a side dish with tomorrows dinner; meatloaf. I have my husband on board too, so I will be returning to let you all know the outcome! 🙂
Oh I believe it! I think broccoli is one of the most loved vegetables and just putting it in the oven with olive oil and melting cheese on top is another sure way to get the little ones to eat it.
Actually pasta dishes are meant to be a main dish served alone as they do in Italy but of course you can serve it anyway you like! But it is filling so keep that in mind.
We look forward to your post on how it turned out.
I actually was planning on making some pasta for today’s lunch, seems like I will be trying this sauce and see how good it is. It definitely looks really tasty, these are two of my favorite vegatables, especially the garlic, I really love its taste, it’s special! Thank you for sharing this!
Great and simple recipe to add some amazing flavor to any quick pasta dish. I´ve also used this for bread, but I usually blend the broccoli. I love brocolli and garlic together.
I really like broccoli so this is a great dish for me. Garlic is also great. This seems like something that I can eat because it tastes great and also because it is healthy.